IN ISAIAH CHAPTER 49 there are some delightful pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Servant of Jehovah; the Saviour of the world; the sharp mouth in His preaching; and the shaft that is polished. These thoughts are instructive and we do well to appreciate them and learn from them. The shaft is of course an arrow. The arrow was used for hunting and in antiquity used in war to great effect whether the archers were on foot or horseback. It is characterized by swiftness, quietness, power, direction and effectiveness. It is normally aimed at a specific target and, until needed, is kept in a quiver carried on the back of the archer or soldier. The shaft of the arrow was made from wood and the tip either from stone or metal.
The Shaft Concealed
Arrows, normally three at a time, are carried in the quiver to keep them secure until required. The hunter will carry his bow in his hand but the arrows remain concealed in the quiver until the appropriate time when a target is identified. It is then taken carefully and with the aid of the bow sent silently and swiftly to accomplish its task. In the quiver of God there are not three arrows – only one of its kind. The Son was ‘concealed’ for many years, from eternity past. He was unknown by men, unseen by human eye, yet prepared and ready for the mighty work of the salvation of men. The target was identified and the Son despatched to accomplish the work. When the fulness of time was come God sent forth His son. This was no bow shot at a venture, but a precise shot which targeted initially the small town of Bethlehem, and therein a virgin who was to be the means of the incarnation. God was to be manifest in flesh for the first time (and only time). That which heretofore had been concealed was now made known. The arrow is useless without the bow and without the skill of the archer. In the revealing of deity the three Persons of the Godhead work together to accomplish the task.
The Shaft Polished
The arrow of Isaiah 49 was not just any old arrow – it had been carefully prepared. Once made, the hunter took it and worked carefully to polish the tip until it shone. This would make it a sharp and lethal weapon in the right hands. To be polished implies the thought of being properly finished, i.e. flawless, faultless and perfect. We rejoice that no fault could be found in Christ and even closer inspection revealed no flaw. He was perfect in every respect – impeccable. Further, the word ‘polished’ implies brightness, brilliance and radiance – these things were true of Christ. The word may also be translated ‘separated’, Lam. 4. 7. The polished sapphire is a person who is set apart for God. The sapphire is a transparent blue enabling one to see the excellencies of the stone even below the surface. Such were the excellencies of Christ. He was polished. There were no rough edges, nothing incomplete or immature. He was under the shadow of divine protection and was complete and perfect in every way. ‘Altogether lovely’ is an apt description of His Person and character. When He arrived in this world men had never seen the like before. His words were sharp in dealing with the Pharisees, His actions similarly so, always hitting the mark and to great effect, as a reading of John’s Gospel will show – He was in every respect a polished shaft. The only Son in the divine armoury and in these last days God has used Him to speak to us.
The Sure Shaft
We are reassured by the words of scripture that the Lord destroyed him that had the power of death and delivered us who through the fear of death were all our lifetime subject to bondage. Often arrows shot by hunters would miss their mark, or only superficially injure. The ‘sure shaft’ went to the heart of the matter. In one fell swoop the enemy was destroyed. There could be no mistake, the wound inflicted on Satan was absolute. In this we rejoice! The sure shaft also encourages us to think of the dependability and faithfulness of Christ. He was tested, tried and found worthy. The archer used shafts that he could depend on, light, yet strong and straight. None other than Christ could accomplish the work of salvation. He alone was able and willing - ‘Here am I, send me’. The arrow hit its target – it bruised the head of Satan and enables all who will to be saved from sin and death. Shot with unerring accuracy and divine precision the work of salvation was accomplished. ‘I have finished the work’, said the Saviour and, in due course, the last enemy will also be destroyed so that the work will be complete. Christ has succeeded and with tremendous power and glory yet also with meekness and in apparent defeat.
The Recovered Shaft
Hunters could not afford to lose arrows and they often had lads whose task it was to recover them. Great pains were taken over this as we observe in the story of Absalom and David. On recovery the arrow would be cleaned and returned to the quiver; once again concealed and ready for reuse in the on-going battle.
The means of His ‘recovery’ from the world were divine and nothing that the enemies of Christ could do could hinder it. He rose again from the dead, He appeared openly for 40 days and thereafter was received in glory.
The divine Archer was determined that the Polished Shaft should be recovered. The marks and wounds of battle still appear on His Person, but He is not belittled by these which were sustained in the house of friends.
‘Whence are these wounds? These are words asked and throughout eternity these wounds of the freshly slain Lamb will be apparent to all. Christ has indeed returned to glory, but He will never need to do the work again. What He has accomplished is once for all. He will not always be concealed either. The day will come when His beauty will be manifest and together we shall enjoy the wonder and glory of The Polished Shaft.